Bakery VOLUNTEER TESTIMONIALS

 

The Centre for Better Health recognises a healthy community is an inclusive community in which individuals can live satisfying and hopeful lives and where there is no stigma about mental ill health.

Our Social Enterprises, Better Health Bakery, Better Health Bikes and Better Health Products, are each a thriving example of this ethos in practice.

Here we celebrate the inspiring stories and work that we see our volunteers producing day-in and day-out. Click below to read about their experiences…

 
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Camilla

What have been the benefits of volunteering at the bakery?
It gave me a bit of a routine to my otherwise randomly busy week and this gives a sense of structure to my time.  I very much enjoyed the baking itself, and I learnt some new baking skills.  I also enjoyed spending time with the other staff at the bakery, and working together: this also reinforced my experience of working in a team.

What have you done well that you can be proud of?
I have learnt to feel comfortable with people that may have difficulties without always feeling that I might be saying the wrong thing. I have also learnt a lot about making bread, shaping and judging how the dough is feeling.

What have you found challenging?
The first few weeks I felt the day very tiring and I realized how little I was used to spending the day on my feet.

What feedback do you have for us?
I found the bakery a very pleasant environment to work in. Everybody is very calm and kind and they make you feel very relaxed.

Name one thing that inspires you about this kind of work and what you have most connected with.
Feeling appreciated and feeling that I have made a difference.

What advice could you offer to a new volunteer starting at the bakery?
Anything can be learnt and people will help you. It will be fun.

How has this experience influenced your ideas about the work place?
I learnt a lot about how a bakery actually works in practice, and how many separate tasks there are in the production of bread (and how one might spend one’s time on only one of those tasks).

How do you see yourself applying what you have learnt here in the future?
I am already applying lots of the baking skills I have learnt in my home baking activities.

What are you doing now that you have finished volunteering?
I am considering volunteering for a little bit longer and maybe looking for a job in the baking world.

 

Owen

I've been working for over 10 years in office-based environments, sat at a desk pushing paper and working on spreadsheets. But I had always yearned to give something back. Volunteering was something I felt passionate about and I really wanted to offer my time to a worthy cause.

I found the Better Health Bakery through the real bread campaign website in late 2018 and saw that they were offering volunteer roles. This was during my final year of Accountancy studies so I had to keep it pencilled in and wait till I had finished. I had completed a sourdough bakery course 10 years before so I had some experience but often baking at home and not on a professional basis.

I finally started my role at the Bakery in January 2019 and from the first day of throwing dough, I knew it was right. Every person I have met; Bakers, volunteers and even the customers have been absolutely amazing. The positive energy that this bakery brings is unique and uplifting.

From a volunteering perspective, the work is really accessible to anyone, not just a passionate long-term baker as myself. Over the 12 weeks, I have learnt a lot about the sourdough process and how a commercial bakery operates. It often felt like I was getting a free Sourdough Baking course every fortnight!

I would recommend the scheme to anyone with an interest in baking and to anyone with a desire to be part of a community working towards change and offering vital support to the most vulnerable people in our society.  

Support networks for Mental Health are so critical in our fragmented society, I was very satisfied to know that some of my time and effort was being used to help promote a very worthwhile charity.

I have very fond memories of my time at BHB and I’ll probably be back in the winter to volunteer again! I left my ultra-fashionable Crocs in the staff room anyway so I’ll have to come back to pick them up. (And a loaf or two!!)

 

Agnese

What have been the benefits of volunteering at the bakery?
I've learned more about baking bread, met many lovely people and really enjoyed working together for such a noble scope and baking amazing quality bread.

What have you done well that you can be proud of?
I think I've learned shaping pretty quickly. I hope I have been helpful and benefited the bakery.

Name one thing that inspires you about this kind of work and what you have most connected with.
I really love healthy food, slow food, real food. Learning more about it was great. I loved working together to create such a lovely product.

What advice could you offer to a new volunteer starting at the bakery?
Don't wear nice shoes during the shift!

How has this experience influenced your ideas about the work place?
I'm used to work in an office. I've loved moving around.

 How do you see yourself applying what you have learnt here in the future?
I'm applying it for home baking already. I wouldn't mind working in a bakery part time.

What are you doing now that you have finished volunteering?
I'm a mum and freelance graphic designer.

 
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Brenda

What have been the benefits of volunteering at the bakery?
It was great to volunteer in the bakery and work in a friendly team who were always very supportive and respectful. I enjoyed working with the trainees and developing a rapport. I never felt there was any hierarchy and everyone was incredibly patient and polite. I learnt a lot about the many processes needed to produce good sourdough bread. The various playlists were interesting – some better than others but I love to work with a tune going. I enjoyed the morning huddle, the banter around the table and the amazing cheese toasties.

What have you done well that you can be proud of?
I have learnt to shape oval loaves. Not perfectly but much better than the ones I made at home previously.

Name one thing that inspires you about this kind of work and what you have most connected with.
Teamwork

What advice could you offer to a new volunteer starting at the bakery?
Don’t hold back on asking questions or asking for help. If you forget just ask.

How has this experience influenced your ideas about the work place?
Volunteering at the bakery has reinforced the importance of human interaction for me. 

How do you see yourself applying what you have learnt here in the future?
I will be baking more bread, trying out some of the recipes I learnt whilst at the bakery and looking at the possibility of employing staff in the future.

What are you doing now that you have finished volunteering?
I’ve caught up on some of my own business development and admin, gardening, and have signed up to mosaic and Babka workshops.

 
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Jenkin

What have been the benefits of volunteering?
Learning how to bake/form sourdough, I needed a bit of guidance and am definitely now going to try it at home! It was also wonderful working with such amazing people.

What have you done well that you can be proud of?
I'm now pretty decent at shaping and have even been holding 'masterclasses' for shaping the hot cross buns!

Name something that inspires you about this kind of work and what you have most connected with?
I'm big on giving back and doing something within the local community, the social enterprise element here is a plus! I enjoy working with local rather than the bigger charities.

What advice would you offer to a new volunteer starting at the bakery?
Don't be scared, most mistakes can be corrected. Try everything and don't be afraid to ask questions. Jump in hard and just do it!

How has this experience influenced your ideas about the workplace?
I don't think it has. Growing up in Canada there are lots of opportunities for trainee and volunteer placements, and I've worked across a few including Starbucks and in the electronics industry. My previous job had to do with the workplace so I have been exposed to many different styles.

How do you see yourself applying what you have learnt here in the future?
At home, baking! I have a new found respect for bakers and other roles within the bakery - it's tiring work!

What are you doing now you have finished volunteering?
I'm moving to Singapore to start a new role with a tech company.